The biological mom of JJ Vallow, who was found buried in a shallow grave in Idaho near the charred remains of his older sister Tylee Ryan, 16, is believed to have died from the 'anguish' of losing her son – just months before the long-awaited murder trial.
Mandy Leger died from natural causes in June 2022 at the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital in Louisiana aged 46, and after losing custody of her son, spent the years prior to her death trying to get him back.
Leger gave birth to JJ, born Canaan Trahan, on May 25, 2012. She and JJ's biological father Todd Trahan both suffered from substance abuse issues and JJ was born addicted to drugs.
JJ was adopted by Lori and Charles Vallow – JJ's uncle – in 2013, shortly before his first birthday and his name was changed to Joshua Jaxton Vallow.
The seven-year-old's adoptive mom and her doomsday author fifth husband, Chad Daybell, are accused of killing the young boy, his sister, and others as part of a twisted plot fueled by their religious beliefs.
Sources close to the family told the U.S. Sun that Leger's dad and stepmom had requested to foster JJ in the hope of keeping him in Louisiana but were rebuffed by the local Child Protective Services (CPS) officials.
Pictures posted to Leger's Facebook page give a window into the relationship between herself and the young boy, the 46-year-old appearing in several posts holding doting on her newborn and smiling.
Trahan's parents, Kay and Larry Woodcock were the first to temporarily foster JJ as a baby before the Vallows took him in and assumed full custody to raise him as their own in Arizona.
Trahan's father also unsuccessfully attempted to foster the boy, while Leger had visitation rights for the first six months of JJ's life.
After relapsing she was ordered to go to rehab before she would again have access to her son, a source told the U.S. Sun but before she could complete the program JJ's adoption had been finalized.
'She was doing everything she could to have a relationship with that baby,' the source said.
'She was fully convicted that if she worked on herself, then one day she would be able to have a relationship with him, but she never got that chance.'
Friends told the outlet that the loss of custody took a significant toll on Leger and when the seven-year-old, who had autism, went missing in November 2019, weeks after he was last seen alive, Leger had been seeking ways she could get her son back.
Investigators believe JJ was already dead at the time.
According to the U.S. Sun, JJ was last seen in the arms of his uncle, Alex Cox, in Idaho September 2022, the following day Vallow contacted JJ's elementary school and said the boy would not be returning and would be home schooled instead.
It's claimed that the Vallow (left) and her husband Chad Daybell (right) became convinced that JJ, Tylee, and Tammy - Daybell's wife of 30 years - had all been possessed by dark spirits and the only way to rid them of their 'demons' was to kill them
His sister Tylee also vanished without a trace a few days prior to JJ last seen during a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park on September 8 that same year.
Law enforcement tried to gain access to the children, Vallow each time refusing. In one instance she fled to Hawaii with Daybell – whose wife of 30 years suddenly died in her sleep. Police first deemed the death natural but now claim it could have been caused by asphyxiation.
Vallow's estranged husband, Charles was shot by Cox in July 2019 – he claimed self-defense and died himself that December by natural causes.
Daybell and Vallow were made persons of interest in the disappearance of JJ and Tylee that same month, investigators believing that the children's lives were in danger.
On Jan 25 2020 police told Vallow that she had five days produce JJ and Tylee or she would be arrested. She was arrested in Hawaii on February 20 and held on a $5 million bond.
Just four months later, after Vallow had insisted that the children had been with a 'friend' in Arizona authorities made the grisly discovery of JJ and Tylee after authorities obtained search warrant for Daybell's home in Rexburg.
Bound in plastic and tape the decomposing body of seven-year-old JJ was discovered near a pet cemetery on the property grounds. His sister was found dismembered and burned.
After hearing of her son's death, a source told the outlet that Leger was 'completely devastated.'
Another source suggested that the 46-year-old's death was directly linked to the 'anguish' and 'stress' of losing JJ.
'She had so much guilt... but her belief system was that one day she'd be able to be with her son again, and I think she took comfort in that,' the source said.
Vallow is currently on trial for first-degree murder, conspiracy, and grand theft charges in connection to the gruesome deaths of JJ and Tylee.
Tylee vanished without a trace a few days prior to JJ - last seen during a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park on September 8 that same year. The two kids are seen pictured with their uncle Alex Cox
She is also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Daybell's first wife Tammy as well as related financial crimes.
Prosecutors allege that the pair had conspired with Cox to murder the trio as part of unhinged and fanatical doomsday beliefs.
Believed to be members of a radical cult, Daybell and Vallow reportedly believe in a 'rating system of light and dark' to judge the purity of the spirits of people around them, prosecutors said.
It's claimed that the pair became convinced that JJ, Tylee, and Tammy had all been possessed by dark spirits and the only way to rid them of their 'demons' was to kill them.
Graphic pictures of a decomposing JJ were shown to Jurors on Tuesday, while investigators said Tylee's body was so badly burned it was difficult to determine a cause of death.
Daybell is also charged with the murder of Tammy, Tylee and JJ. The couple were to stand trial together but their cases were severed by a judge last month.
Vallow's trial is expected to last eight weeks.